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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Feb;64(2):431-8.

Significance of viral lysis and flagellate grazing as factors controlling bacterioplankton production in a eutrophic lake.

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  • 1GBF-National Research Center of Biotechnology, AG Molecular Microbial Ecology, D-38124 Braunschweig, Germany.

Abstract

The effects of viral lysis and heterotrophic nanoflagellate (HNF) grazing on bacterial mortality were estimated in a eutrophic lake (Lake Plusssee in northern Germany) which was separated by a steep temperature and oxygen gradient into a warm and oxic epilimnion and a cold and anoxic hypolimnion. Two transmission electron microscopy-based methods (whole-cell examination and thin sections) were used to determine the frequency of visibly infected cells, and a model was used to estimate bacterial mortality due to viral lysis. Examination of thin sections also showed that between 20.2 and 29.2% (average, 26.1%) of the bacterial cells were empty (ghosts) and thus could not contribute to viral production. The most important finding was that the mechanism for regulating bacterial production shifted with depth from grazing control in the epilimnion to control due to viral lysis in the hypolimnion. We estimated that in the epilimnion viral lysis accounted on average for 8.4 to 41.8% of the summed mortality (calculated by determining the sum of the mortalities due to lysis and grazing), compared to 51.3 to 91.0% of the summed mortality in the metalimninon and 88.5 to 94.2% of the summed mortality in the hypolimnion. Estimates of summed mortality values indicated that bacterial production was controlled completely or almost completely in the epilimnion (summed mortality, 66.6 to 128.5%) and the hypolimnion (summed mortality, 43.4 to 103.3%), whereas in the metalimnion viral lysis and HNF grazing were not sufficient to control bacterial production (summed mortality, 22.4 to 56.7%). The estimated contribution of organic matter released by viral lysis of cells into the pool of dissolved organic matter (DOM) was low; however, since cell lysis products are very likely labile compared to the bulk DOM, they might stimulate bacterial production. The high mortality of bacterioplankton due to viral lysis in anoxic water indicates that a significant portion of bacterial production in the metalimnion and hypolimnion is cycled in the bacterium-virus-DOM loop. This finding has major implications for the fate and cycling of organic nutrients in lakes.

PMID:
16349497
PMCID:
PMC106062
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